Is Sri lanka Cricket happy beating wooden spoonists?


Shehan Madushanka took a hat-trick on debut

by Mahinda Wijesinghe

Twenty-two-year old paceman, Sri Lankan ODI debutant Shehan Madushanka, helped clinch the three-cornered international ODI series between Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh when he captured the last three scalps of the Bangladeshi innings in consecutive balls and thus became the fourth bowler to achieve a hat-trick on his first appearance in this form of the game. His feat helped Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by a comfortable 79 runs and brought some faint sunshine to the current state of Sri Lanka cricket.

The first debutant to achieve this feat was Bangladeshi left-arm spinner Taijul Islam when he captured a hat-trick against Zimbabwe in 2014. Next was South African paceman Kagiso Rabada when he emulated this feat versus Bangladesh in the following year. Sri Lankan leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga followed suit at Galle in 2017 against Zimbabwe.

It appears that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe feature very regularly in these statistics!

However the most outstanding feats of hat-tricks, though not as debutants, have been achieved by former Lankan pacemen, and during ODI World Cups.

First was of course by left-arm paceman Chaminda Vaas during the 2003 World Cup against Bangladesh (again) when he simply scattered their first three batsmen with the first three deliveries of the game he bowled to achieve a hat-trick which is very unlikely to be repeated at this level. The Bangladeshi scoreboard at the end of the first three deliveries of the match must have looked a picture at 0/3 with all three batsmen obviously not bothering the scorers.

The next Sri Lankan to hit the headlines in this field was paceman Lasith Malinga who has three hat-tricks to his credit. However can one ever forget the 2007 ODI World Cup played in West Indies?

Sri Lanka was on the brink of defeat. The hosts needed a mere four runs to win the game with five wickets in hand. Then the almost impossible nearly happened. Malinga wrapped up the wickets of Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini in successive deliveries. The South Africans batsmen and the spectators were – naturally - mesmerized and it took another nervous 11 more deliveries before "a thick outside edge flew off Robin Peterson’s bat to seal the deal."

In effect it is worthwhile to ponder on our cricketing past when our former greats had achieved such memorable feats.

Now to end, though on a sour note regarding the shenanigans of those who had the responsibility of selecting the Sri Lankan Under-19 team for the ICC World Cup being played in New Zealand. It appears our team had fared very poorly having been knocked out in the first round. Reportedly, inter alia, a player with certain connections who should not have been selected made it to the team while a player with standout performances has been sadly left out.

It appears an official complaint has been lodged in this regard to the Minister of Sports but of course to no avail. If Sri Lanka cricket is not on their toes countries like Afghanistan will be breathing down our necks very soon. In fact they beat hosts New Zealand by a massive margin of 200+ runs in this tournament until the Australians (who are currently in the final) beat the Afghans.

One must remember that the Under-19 team should be the logical stepping stone to the National level. So, favoritism – if it exists at any level – cannot be tolerated. Sri Lanka will have to continue making all efforts to win at the lower levels of international cricket – as is the current trend.

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